Paris Letters

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Welcome to the first WOW Book Club book review of Paris Letters!

I first glanced at this book in an airport and perhaps because of my surroundings (and the plane ticket in my hand suggesting I was Paris bound), thought it was speaking to me to pick it up and give it a read. After reading the blurb, which describes a woman who tires of her corporate life, saves her pennies, packs her bags and jumps on a plane bound for Paris, I really saw no reason not to read it. Some $20 later, I shoved the book into my carry-on luggage and intended to read a little bit each day on my journey. That didn’t last long – not even any longer than my one-way journey through to Paris.

This book is hard to put down. It speaks volumes to me, having had the same revelation (though at 22, whereas the writer packs up her things and moves to Paris in her thirties) and following the same path to pursue the things I want to do because I’m passionate about them, not because they’re expected of me.

“How much money does it take to change your life?”

The author asks herself this very question. If she wants to quit her job and take off to travel for a couple of years, how much money would she need to do so? With a little math and many (100, in fact) ways to save money in her every day life, she sets herself the task of doing so.

Like the author, I too saved a lot of money in little ways, so I stand by every word she says as truth. Praise a woman for real talk! And as idealistic and non-achievable as it might seem to the critics, I can assure you her math and efforts are entirely on point.

When I first picked up the book I wondered whether it was a travelogue in Paris, a motivational self help book or a love story… and after finishing, I’m concluding that it was a little bit of all three. I loved the balance the author struck, making the book even more relatable than the blurb suggested and reminding us all that we too can quit the every day for the extraordinary.

As a self-confessed die hard lover of Paris, I also loved the setting of the book, though with the small introduction of other cities (i.e. the Vatican explorations), I felt as if I could have followed Janice all over Europe and beyond. I only hope that this is the beginning of her travel writing and not the sudden end (with her wedding and all), even if she moved over from fact to fiction I’m sure I would follow her books elsewhere!

So, over to you – some questions for discussion in the comments below (answer one, two, or all!):

Paris Letters


Do you think the author’s love life was so disjointed because of her decision to put her career first or can you have both?

What did you think of the author’s 100 ways she saved to travel? Were there any you could relate to?

Did you find the author’s voice relatable throughout her journey from corporate world to a (mostly) glamorous life in Paris eating pastries daily?

Would you have followed in the author’s footsteps to partake in a relationship with broken English or would you find it too difficult? Or was that what made their love so desirable?

Did you check out the author’s Etsy store following the book? I know I did!

Have you read similar books: Lunch in Paris and Almost French? How did they compare?

Further reading: the author reveals how to get a book published in this interview if you’re interested in further reading!

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    Jill @ RunEatSnap
    April 26, 2016 at 11:03 am

    I LOVED this book! OMG I can totally relate to her story – wanting to travel and get away from the mundane every day life even if it was once what she thought she wanted. I loved her ideas on saving up and am definitely looking into starting to do some of them myself. I think it would be so difficult and frustrating to be in a relationship with someone who didn’t speak the same language. But I am so happy they made it work! I definitely checked out her Etsy store when I finished the book and ordered one of her Paris letters! Great book recommendation, thank you!!

    February 29, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    […] didn’t inspire me to pack my bags and get on a plane… unlike other travel reads like Paris Letters (Janice Macleod) or Lunch in Paris (Elizabeth […]

    February 7, 2016 at 10:34 am

    This has easily become one of my favorite books of all time. It spoke to me in so many ways that I’m feeling more confident than ever to go after what I want. What I loved best were her amazing descriptions while in Paris. It took me back to the few months I lived there a few years ago. I’m counting the days until I can have a cute little French apartment once again. I finished a little late but I can’t wait to start February’s pick.

    Vannessa Lancia
    February 5, 2016 at 4:10 am

    This book was a GREAT read. It has been on my list for so long and this book club finally gave me the excuse to read it! I especially liked how the author is originally from a town not to far from where I live (Hamilton, Ontario – she’s from Norfolk, Ontario). Her journey is inspiring and her writing is full of wit, humour, and realities. Her love story is one for the books (pun intended); it’s a literal fairytale. Her 100 ways to save has inspired me to cut down the material positions in my life and this weekend I am finally going to be selling some of my possessions! My money won’t be going to travelling the world but it will go towards my few vacations I take in a year (especially with the Canadian dollar doing so poorly, I need all the money I can get) !

    Noelle Konrad
    February 4, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Wonderful novel! I did not realize that the author was speaking from her experiences until about half way through. She was inspiring. I wish I could pack everything I own into a suitcase. I however have just started settling down with my husband and loving every minute. We get our fair share of traveling. We spent our first Christmas as a married couple in Japan. I would love some tips from her now that she is married on saving for travel. I am so excited to be apart of this book club and am already itching to start the next book.
    Is there anything better than reading about love and Paris?

    February 4, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I loved this book and could relate in a lot of ways. All the Parisian things she mentioned reminded me of the amazing times I have had in Paris during my years of travelling.
    I too packed up my life from Australia and moved (although it was the England and not France). I saved up and basically became a hermit to afford to go. But it was all worth it. I have memories and have seen things some people only read about or see pictures of.
    And I met the love of my life over there (an Englishman, not a Frenchman!)
    For me, traveling and moving away really made me find myself. And I think that’s what happened to Janice too.

    February 3, 2016 at 1:02 am

    For one of my New Year’s Resolutions, I decided that I would commit to the WoW bookclub and after reading the January pick, I’m honestly looking forward to see what’s in store in the months to come! I think I’m actually gonna review the book as well for my monthly read on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    Being on the road myself, my biggest challenge is learning how to downsize my load (I’m too much of a sentimentalist; its really bad!) But I’ve started to notice how having too many things weighs you down in a place so maybe I’ll add another resolution to my list to concentrate on minimizing my personal belongings and hopefully that will act as a catalyst for reducing my spending habits in the long run. I have the kindle version of her book so now that 100 ways to save is constantly at hand!

    Also, her Etsy account is quite inspirational! Janice really is an entrepreneur for sure, how creative can someone be to think about commercializing the act of letter-writing?! I mean, I write letters all the time! I believe in keeping the written word alive in all aspects and send letters once a month. I’ve even had a penpal that I’ve kept in touch constantly for the past eight years. The fact that she allows people to follow her on her journeys through these gorgeously handcrafted pieces is something I might have to borrow in the future (of course with attribution for the inspiration). Once I settle down in a place, I think I might have to subscribe!

    Thank you again for starting this book club and I’m looking forward to reading “Girls Who Travel!” And I’m checking out your Love Paris Book List for more reads about the Eternal City. Have you ever read “Paris was Ours” by Penelope Rowlands? You should check that one out as well! 32 different creative personalities reflect about their time living there and its a stunning read 🙂

    Lauren of Postgrad & Postcards
    February 2, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    I don’t think career or not was Janice’s reason for a disjointed love life. I think she simply didn’t know how to love herself yet. She found worth in her relationships because she hadn’t found worth in herself yet. It all turned out well, obviously, but it is a situation I think most people relate to. Especially women, especially me.

    I loved the writing style of Janice, and I love that she journaled and wrote letters and documented everything so well I didn’t feel like I was reading made-up stories. I trusted that all of her stories were as close to the truth as possible, so that was a cool unique aspect of Paris Letters I haven’t found before!

      Lauren of Postgrad & Postcards
      February 2, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      Oh, and, I’m loving this virtual travel-related book club! Can’t wait for next month! I finished Paris Letters so early on and I was just waiting all month for this post (:

    February 1, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks for responding Brooke! Not gonna lie, totaling fan girling that you replied to my comment. haha I’m looking forward to next months book! THANKS!!!! 🙂

    February 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    This was a nice read, it is not one of my favourites or a book that I would recommend, but I did enjoy the story and dreaming about my own future. I just would have liked it to be a bit more in depth and a little less chicklitty. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. I’m also reading My Life In France, by Julia Child, and I’m not finished yet, but I’m a bigger fan of that one.

    The story was very relatable as I’m currently saving up for my own adventure abroad. Travel is my big passion and I never have enough vacation days (I laughed when I got to the part where Janice told about her vacation days, I’m exactly the same). I’m also thinking about creating my own alternative ways to sustain my travel plans. So of course I checked Janice’ Etsy shop (unfortunately, I’m not a creative person, so an Etsy shop is not something I could do).

    I recognized a lot of her “100 ways to save” as I’m already implementing most of them. In 2015, I discovered the minimalist and tiny house movements, which are a huge inspirations for me. I’m still far from calling myself a minimalist (hope to get there one day), but I’m sure I own a lot less than most of my friends.

    I was already thinking about going to Paris for a weekend in February (or March) before I read this book, because my last time in Paris is already too long ago. This book definitely made that wish even more real, so I’m looking forward to that!

    February 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    I will admit it was a bit difficult for me to settle down enough to escape into this story. I had just finished a sci fi/fantasy series that was action packed and riddled with battle scenes but once I calmed down and really delved in I found the story inspiring and really quite a remarkable journey of self discovery.

    From early on I knew staying in one place was not for me, my husband teases calling me a gypsy as I have lived in many places including another country – Japan. I am about to embark on a new journey to live in Italy, which is happening in March. I completely got her love of walking around and exploring as well as finding that one coffee shop, the one park, the one restaurant that just makes it feel comfortable. This story has added to my excitement of moving to Italy and I can’t wait. It also has me wondering if there’s a money making idea I can come up with to work from home while there. But I am not artistic at all.

    Very timely read for me, thank you!

    P.S. Any suggestions on work from home ideas are appreciated.

    January 31, 2016 at 10:17 am

    This book definitely inspired me to save up and move to Paris! Unfortunately, it’s the dream of a poor university student haha. But if I learned anything from this read, its that as long as you work hard and dream big enough, anything can happen in the future. 😉 After visiting Paris for the first time last year and living abroad (In Amsterdam) for a few months, I really think that someday I can make this happen. Thank you for sharing this book and inspiring me even more!

    January 31, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Loved the book! My lifestyle and season of life could not be more different from the author – yet this is one of the things I loved about it. It’s a peek into another world.
    I also found myself taking notes on her $100 a day goal, decluttering of life and creative business model. Very practical stuff couched in a great story.

    Thanks for the pick.

    Mellodie Wittwer
    January 31, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Hi Brooke I too went straight to etsy and love the idea of receiving these letters. I have read lots of Paris books and loved them all. Also “Almost French”and “A family in Paris” were great from an Aussie perspective.

    Vicki Bullard
    January 31, 2016 at 5:22 am

    I must admit, I have read Almost French and related to it more. That is probably because the entire book was about immersing herself in the French way of life, and as a life-long Francophile I have been attempting to learn to speak French with fluency for years (which is difficult to do living in California, where there is more opportunity to speak Spanish.) But, I did enjoy the book. Several of her “100 Ways” involve dealing with the accumulation of stuff in one’s life, and this is where I most identified. Whether it is using up things that I’ve bought and stashed away, or selling things that I don’t need, I’m ready to unclutter my life. And, if I can save or make money for travel, it’s a win-win. Then, stop shopping and buying something just because it’s on sale or you have a discount coupon. I’d rather accumulate travel memories than stuff!
    Thank you, Brooke, for initiating this Book Club! It is great to read the other comments and your responses. Looking forward to the next book! @vixwanderlust

    Jill @ RunEatSnap
    January 30, 2016 at 9:19 am

    I put this book on my list to read! Sounds like my kind of book 😉

    Jessica Shook
    January 30, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Here’s a link to part of Janice’s blog that I thought was cute. Its the letter she wrote to Christophe after she gets the courage to interact with him. At the bottom there’s a cute video of her mildly stalking him from afar. Haha!

    • Brooke Saward
      January 30, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Hahahaha this is so fab! <3

    January 30, 2016 at 4:48 am

    I love this book! I just finished reading it for the second time (and I don’t read a lot of books twice). I could totally relate to her initial feelings of not being where she thinks she should be but then learning to enjoy what she has and not what she doesn’t have. I read Almost French as well which I really liked but that story is more about how she navigates the French culture and tries to assimilate. I found Janice’s story more relatable and witty. I definitely want to buy a letter from her Etsy store for inspiration!

    • Brooke Saward
      January 30, 2016 at 9:12 am

      I’m thinking I will do the same and frame it for my wall to remember everything I learned/gained from the book 🙂 truly think her writing and story are fantastic! xx

    Kendall Simmons
    January 30, 2016 at 4:16 am

    I absolutely loved the book and I felt that it was relatable on every level. I strongly contemplated not going in to the office the day after I started it so that I could stay home and finish it!

    I can relate to Janice because I’m a driven career person and I strive to achieve professional success (the American dream and all that!) but I also dream of running away to Paris and living a simpler life. It can be hard to balance the two desires. The way that I’m managing it at the moment is by working hard running my own business, but using my flexible number of vacation days to take 3-4 great trips per year. It’s working for now, but who knows what the future holds!

    As always, thank you for the inspiration that your blog and Instagram account provide. I always look forward to seeing what you’re up to daily! I’m excited to see what the next book club book will be!

    • Brooke Saward
      January 30, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Thank YOU Kendall for being such a loyal reader – I notice these things 😉 I’ve picked out the books for Feb and March and cannot wait to share! xx

    Janice MacLeod
    January 30, 2016 at 2:54 am

    Your humble author here. I popped in to say hello and I only glanced at the book comments… because it’s like eating a sandwich that might have glass in it. A self-preservation thing. So keep talking and if you have questions for me, email me at I’ll pop back in with answers. As for answering the first question, I’m definitely writing more travel memoir. More to come on that front once I figure it all out. In the meantime, thanks for reading and keep saving $100 a day.

    • Brooke Saward
      January 30, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Oh Janice! 🙂 You SHOULD read the comments, everyone who reads WOW is destined to love your book!! Thanks so much for stopping by! xx

    Molly McIlvaine
    January 30, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Brooke, thank you for sharing this great book! I read it one sitting! It was a great read and I loved that it was a travel memoir. As she described herself as her office “vacation expert”, I couldn’t help but relate (and giggle). I squeeze EVERY SINGE day out of my measly 2 weeks of vacation per year which can be even harder to do when you want to go home to see your family for Christmas. I think my office also sees me as somewhat of a vacation time hoarder so I was just laughing along as she painted that picture. I organize my time off around weekends to get the most out of my travel–it’s actually ridiculous! It’s very American to live to work, and I hate that we’re capped at 2 weeks, no exceptions. I was cheering Janice on every bit of the way! I’m so happy for her and have been on a similar savings binge to quit and travel full time…time will tell. Thank you for this travel inspiration! It was just what I needed in January to start off 2016! <3 🙂

    Hope you're enjoying Malaysia!

    • Brooke Saward
      January 30, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Thanks for your comment Molly – made me giggle thinking of you as the vacation time hoarder in the office hahaha! Glad it was a good kick start for 2016, don’t forget to think back to that story whenever you need an escape and something tells me you might find a similar kind of escape in next month’s book club read 🙂 x

    Sharon Kay Phillips
    January 30, 2016 at 2:12 am

    Loved the book. It will go on my book shelve as a keeper. Will reread now and then. Yes I did check her Etsy shop. Luv her paintings and letters. To me she made the streets of Paris come alive. I could feel the wind and rain. I really enjoyed her pictures. I went and bought a set of cheap water colors and am going to play around with them. Ha. Will be fun.

    I have one question. She writes the letters to Aine. What does that mean?Maybe just a name? If Janice told I missed it.

    Thank you for recommending. What is our next choice?

    • Brooke Saward
      January 30, 2016 at 9:17 am

      Hey Sharon! I believe the letters she is writing throughout the book is her pen pal correspondence; a friend she met years ago. I also bought a set of cheap watercolours haha!! I’ve only had a quick one hour session thus far but looking forward to trying a new hobby! 🙂 Next month’s book club read will be announced on Monday – hope you join us again 🙂

    Jessica Shook
    January 30, 2016 at 2:02 am

    I absolutely LOVED this book! I read it in just under 12 hours! I think this books speaks to people who love to travel because it’s what we all dream of doing. Quitting our boring day job and heading out on an adventure! I didn’t realize when I first started reading that this book was going to be a biography of sorts so that was a pleasant surprise! I really enjoyed her tips for saving and have begun some of them myself! I think people can have both love and a career. It’s all about prioritizing! And if it is meant to be, I believe it will all work out in the end! Thanks so much for introducing me to this book Brooke! Loved the book and love you!

    • Brooke Saward
      January 30, 2016 at 9:19 am

      I toooootally agree and when people say to me “How did you do it!?” (quit your job and travel) I can now recommend this book for them to read! I also totally agree that what will be will be and we can’t toy with fate! Lots of love and hope to see you next month for another great read 🙂 xx

    January 30, 2016 at 1:23 am

    I like the idea of a book club though I really need to find a way to save time to read !
    I’ll definitely add this book on my list for the upcoming lectures.

    Kenza from

    January 29, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Oh I hadn’t seen you’d started a book club, so exciting! This book sounds great, going to purchase it now and make sure I join in with next month’s read x

    January 29, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    I absolutely adored this book. I think it captures exactly how I have felt for such a long time. There is something so beautiful about a woman being so truthful with herself and with others and taking both little and large steps to change her life.

    I loved the 100 ways to save money and have implemented so many to start having more adventures of my own but I don’t think that I could ever pack up and leave. This book made me realise that whilst I complain about my job I secretly love it and couldn’t do anything else. What I can do as a teacher is have more adventures and that’s the new plan!

    It made me finally book that ticket to California for five weeks in the Summer. Your blog made me book the car to drive the coast!

    I shared ten of the lessons that this book taught me on my blog. Would love for some of you to check it out. It really would mean a lot!

    Thank you for the gift of this book Brooke!

    Sophie xx

    January 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I was late to the task and am only halfway through the book but I find Paris Letters so relateable! I am 30, work in Marketing and kinda hate it and would love to buy myself some time to travel and work out what I want to do next. I love the idea of saving $100 per day to do so! Can’t wait to finish it though I can kinda guess now how it concludes

    January 29, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    I really enjoyed the book. I can relate to how the author saved money because that is how I am trying to save money for my own travel. I too read any books involving Paris such as lunch in Paris and its sequel. I enjoy the same glimsp into the life or an expat in France. Personally I find relationships hard enough in English let alone in two separate languages. Brooke thank you so much for introducing me to this book and to your own travel experiences, I love reading your blog posts.

    January 29, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I read this book in one sitting as well, and it’s definitely hard to put down! I liked the story, but because of the way it was written, I didn’t feel as though it was that relatable or realistic. Although the author said she embellished the characters a bit and changed some names, it just felt very much like a novel, complete with a happy ending.
    I really enjoyed seeing the art throughout though, and the 100 ways to save were helpful for me!

    Angelina Is | Bloglovin’

    • Brooke Saward
      January 29, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      The 100 ways to save were fantastic! Totally see where you are coming from with the glossiness of the story – being a textbook romantic myself though, I just loved every minute of it haha 🙂 so glad you enjoyed it Angelina and hope you join us for next month’s bookclub 🙂 xx

    Julia Weegar
    January 29, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Before visiting Paris last fall, I picked this book (and any other Paris/French set book I could get my hands on, including Lunch in Paris) and really enjoyed it. I work in social services, and while I do love what I do, it can be incredibly draining. As can being an American – especially during an election year as tumultuous as the one we’re experiencing. Sometimes I fantasize about picking up and making a home in a different culture that puts less emphasis on living to work, and appreciates that you should actually be working to live. That is, life should be about enjoying yourself, time with people you love, and having adventures (even if only in your own city).

    That said, I really admire the path you are on, Brooke. I wish I’d discovered my passion for travel sooner, but over the course of my twenties it’s definitely begun to sink in and I look forward to exploring so many more places. And, when I can’t get away, reading about them 🙂

    • Brooke Saward
      January 29, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Julia this was such a lovely comment to read – thank you so much for taking the time to share your own experiences! That is exactly what I love about blogging, too… that when we can’t get away, we can live vicariously through someone else and still see + share + experience the world 🙂 truly grateful for people like you who take the time to reflect on that aspect of it! Big love!!! xx